Public health internship impacts local community

September 7, 2018

True to the spirit of Brandeis students, known for their ambitions both in the classroom and during their time off in the summer, many choose to spend their summers partaking in internships and accepting job positions all across the country and in the world.

Sarah Fielman ’19, who is majoring in HSSP and Anthropology, worked in a community health center at Health Leads in Quincy, M.A. during the summer.

“For more than 20 years, Health Leads has worked with leading healthcare organizations to create sustainable, high-impact and cost effective social needs interventions that connect patients to the community-based resources they need to be healthy—from food to transportation to healthcare benefits,” according to the Health Leads website. Hospitals and universities around the countries utilize workshops hosted by Health Leads or have used Health Leads resources to further their own programs.

Fielman knew that she wanted to do something with public health in the future as a career path, and felt that the internship was a good place to test the waters and see if her interests aligned with the position. “On a daily basis, I worked with a team of staff (ranging from administrative staff to clinical staff) to help implement a social determinants of health screening program. I worked with patients to make sure that they were able to overcome a variety of barriers keeping them from maintaining their health,” wrote Fielman to The Brandeis Hoot.

Having the ability to work directly with patients proved extremely impactful to Fielman. “Working with patients and directly seeing the impact you make in their lives was a powerful experience,” Fielman explained. “Even at the end of the day if you could not help them, they were incredibly appreciative that you tried.”

The overall experience helped Fielman realize what she wants out of her career in the future, as well as what she will try to avoid. She gained new skills from the position outside of the realm of public health, as well.

“I also learned a lot about the environment and dynamics of working in a public health setting. I think generally I learned a lot about how to connect with people as well as communicate professionally,” wrote Fielman.

One of the best memories Fielman has from the summer is participating in the Fair Foods event, which offers a bag of fresh fruits and vegetables for two dollars every Wednesday. Staff members sorted through all the food, bagged it and sold it to patients at the clinic.

“By doing this, I got to see the demographic of the community, got to know the variety of staff at the clinic and just have a really fun time hanging out. The people at the clinic were all very interesting and great people to learn from and work with,” wrote Fielman.

Fielman is continuing this internship through the school year. She applied to the program through Handshake, an online internship posting site that helps to even the playing field for job opportunities among all students.

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